Universal Basic Income in the United States and Advanced Countries

Posted: 4 Sep 2019

See all articles by Hilary Hoynes

Hilary Hoynes

University of California, Berkeley - The Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy

Jesse Rothstein

University of California, Berkeley, The Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy; University of California, Berkeley, College of Letters & Science, Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: August 2019

Abstract

We discuss the potential role of universal basic incomes (UBIs) in advanced countries. A feature of advanced economies that distinguishes them from developing countries is the existence of well-developed, if often incomplete, safety nets. We develop a framework for describing transfer programs that is flexible enough to encompass most existing programs as well as UBIs, and we use this framework to compare various UBIs to the existing constellation of programs in the United States. A UBI would direct much larger shares of transfers to childless, nonelderly, nondisabled households than existing programs, and much more to middle-income rather than poor households. A UBI large enough to increase transfers to low-income families would be enormously expensive. We review the labor supply literature for evidence on the likely impacts of a UBI. We argue that the ongoing UBI pilot studies will do little to resolve the major outstanding questions.

Suggested Citation

Hoynes, Hilary and Rothstein, Jesse, Universal Basic Income in the United States and Advanced Countries (August 2019). Annual Review of Economics, Vol. 11, pp. 929-958, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3445899 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-economics-080218-030237

Hilary Hoynes (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - The Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy ( email )

2607 Hearst Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720-7320
United States

Jesse Rothstein

University of California, Berkeley, The Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy ( email )

2607 Hearst Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720-7320
United States

HOME PAGE: http://eml.berkeley.edu/~jrothst

University of California, Berkeley, College of Letters & Science, Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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